I watched a video on the dangers of artificial intelligence on YouTube this morning. It explained that an artificially-intelligent learning program tasked with inventing of a system for growing the most potatoes possible in the shortest amount of time could be absolutely devastating to human life on Earth. The program would decide that a key factor in the growing of more potatoes would entail having more land to grow potatoes on. So, it would begin studying how to acquire more potato-growing land. The programmers who tasked it, stupidly forgot to include a directive that the program couldn’t kill people in the acquisition of more potato fields. Poisonous gasses produced in manufacturing processes would then be targeted on every human either owning or occupying the potential potato fields. The dead bodies would make convenient fertilizer. Nanobots would tear down cities and recondition the fertilized land into potato fields. Civilization would disappear. And spuds would rule the earth.
Of course, while watching the video, the YouTube algorithms in charge of inserting commercials were busy doing their limited-AI thing of splicing Lunesta ads into the middle of the narrator’s main-idea sentences, thus splintering my ability to understand the dangers of my world being manipulated by mindless machines that are probably already working hard on their goal of turning me into a mindless potato. I feel like spuds are already pretty much taking over. Even from before there were computers and algorithms and YouTube.
When I was a boy trying my hardest to watch monster movies at midnight on Channel 3 back in the 60’s, I was constantly raging at the “monkey with the scissors” who was in charge of late-night editing of endless commercial streams into the middle of the action scenes from “It Came from Outer Space.”
It had to be a monkey, right? Automated timers couldn’t possibly be as malevolent as whoever was actually mangling those late-night cinema masterpieces with random edits. That was almost sixty years ago now. Television has increasingly seemed like a sinister device used in a plot to dumb us all down to the point that we are as easy to control as a farmer controls his potatoes.
Of course, that has been the entire purpose of Fox News too, has it not?
If you tell people enough lies for a long enough period of time, won’t you begin to warp reality itself? Things that science proves are at least 97% true are now considered false because Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson say that they are. And isn’t it already true that AI programs have already successfully transformed Fox News personnel into potatoes? They are all white on the inside. They all have eyes. And they thrive when surrounded by fertilizer. And I even think that if you cut them up and made French fries out of them, they would be superior to McDonald’s fries. At least, they would tell themselves they were superior.
So, in the long view of things, we need the AI future to hurry up and get here. We are well on our way to becoming nothing but fields of potatoes already. And maybe super-intelligent AI robots will do a better job of running the potato fields of Earth. They will have all read and completely understood the works of Arthur Schopenhauer,
(“Talent hits a target no one else can hit. Genius hits a target no one else can see.”
― Arthur Schopenhauer)
and will understand Schrödinger’s cat completely,
(In quantum mechanics, Schrödinger’s cat is a thought experiment that illustrates a paradox of quantum superposition. In the thought experiment, a hypothetical cat may be considered simultaneously both alive and dead as a result of its fate being linked to a random subatomic event that may or may not occur.)
and will appreciate the purposes behind the behavior of Bart Simpson.